The Ultimate Relocation Guide to Berlin
So you decided to pack your stuff and move to Berlin? Great!
This city has a flourishing arts scene and is a leader in implementing new technologies.
Whether you are moving because you got a job there or you just want to live in this modern and thriving tech city, we have your back! In this blog post you can read all the important stuff you need to relocate the smoothest way as possible.
Before you hop on the plane you need to make sure that you have all the required documents and permits to enter and live in Germany.
Legalisation and translation
In certain situations German authorities and courts can require translation of foreign documents. Make sure to choose a sworn or a certified German translator.
Legalization of documents is performed by the consular officers of the German embassies and consulates in the country where the document was issued. For further information you can check the website of the relevant German embassy/consulate.
Visas and permits
In order to enter Germany you might need a visa. You can check here if you need a visa to enter the Federal Republic of Germany.
Foreign nationals from the EU, EEA or Switzerland are exempt from the visa requirement.
As for non-EU nationals, all other foreigners require a visa for stays in Germany. A visa is not required for visits of up to 90 days in a 180‑day period for nationals of those countries for which the European Community has abolished the visa requirement.
You can find information on the visa types and requirements here.
Start to learn about Germany and Berlin
Before you move to Germany it might be useful to learn a little bit about the country and the culture.
The first thing that comes to people’s minds when thinking about Germany is a lot of beer, wurst (sausage) and punctual and maximalist people. However, let’s put the stereotypes aside and explore how amazing this country and their nationals are! 🙂
For example, did you know that there are over 620.000 registered foreign residents in Berlin? This city is a multi-national paradise and is very welcoming towards expats from all around the world.
You can read about the German politics, life, business, culture and environment here.
This is maybe one of the most important things to do before you move to Berlin: find your perfect place to live! Finding the best match for you requires some research and it can be also a challenge!
This city offers a unique urban and international environment with high living standards and a lot of parks and recreational areas.
You have two possibilities: private rentals or buying a property.
As for renting there are some websites which you should explore:
You can also check Facebook groups like this.
The renting price of a furnished studio is around €700 and you can rent a 2-bedroom flat for around €900. A lot of Berlin’s apartments are very spacious and often come with beautiful high ceilings and hardwood floors. You can find more on renting an apartment here.
If you decided to buy a property, you can find a great summary about buying an apartment in Berlin here.
Herzlich willkommen and congrats, the hardest part is now behind you! You are finally in Berlin in your new home with all the required documents, permits and visas. Now it’s time to arrange some local things!
Registering with the local municipality
Every person living in Germany is obliged to register within 14 days of moving into a new residence. When doing so, you will be given the “Meldebescheinigung“ (Registration certificate).
Registration (Anmeldung) is compulsory. The name comes from the german word “An/melden,” which means “to register” and this is one of the most important administrative things for anybody moving anywhere in Germany.
You can make an appointment to register, but you don’t have to register at the “Bürgeramt” in your area so you can go to any. It’s great because central locations like Mitte or Kreuzberg are usually very busy and therefore have a much longer wait for an appointment, but if you choose a not too central office then the process will be faster. If you don’t want to book an appointment, you can even go in the morning, take a ticket and wait around for your number to be called. Unless you have an appointment, you will have to wait between one or two hours before they call you.
For the registration, you will need:
- – Your passport
- – The registration form — Anmeldung bei der Meldebehörde
- – Confirmation that you have moved in from your landlord — Einzugsbestätigung des Wohnungsgebers (Vermieter)
- – Rental contract (not explicitly needed if you have the confirmation from your landlord but nice to have).
When you are filling out the form, if you state that you are Catholic, Protestant or Jewish you will have to pay a church tax which is 9% of your income tax. Around two weeks after your registration you will receive your permanent German tax ID number (Identifikationsnummer) in the post.
Opening a bank account after moving to a new country is important. Luckily, you have a lot to choose from in Germany.
What you need to open is a “Girokonto”, a transactional account where your expenses and earnings go into.
To open a personal bank account in Germany, you need:
- – A valid passport with a current German residence permit
- – Anmeldung (registration)
- – Completed application with personal info: name, age, nationality, address, income, etc.
- – Initial deposit (minimum amount depends on the bank)
- – Proof of income/employment, a letter of recommendation from your employer, pay slips, etc. (The more of these you have, the better your chances of receiving a full-service account.)
- – SCHUFA credit rating (optional, although it may be required at some banks)
For example with N26 you can easily open a bank account with your mobile phone in just a few minutes. Their interface and customer support is available in English and most of their banking services are free (withdrawal, transfer, bank account, debit card).
This can be surprising for some, but cash payment is still very popular in Germany. Because of this there are a lot of ATMs in city centres. They are usually marked by credit card logos or have the German word for cash machine, Geldautomat.
Health insurance and healthcare
Did you know that Germany’s universal healthcare system is one of the oldest in the world? Everyone legally residing in Germany is entitled to healthcare and even required by law to have health insurance.
You can choose from two types of health insurance in Germany, public and private. Public health insurance is more common, as there are certain requirements for receiving private insurance. Most employed people are automatically registered for public health insurance, with contributions taken out of their monthly paycheque.
The main benefits of private health insurance is that you will not have such long waiting times. Interestingly, some doctors only accept patients with private health insurance.
A great website called DocInsider (in German) offer ratings and rankings of doctors by other patients. However, the best way to find a trustworthy doctor in Germany is by word-of-mouth; ask your colleagues and friends about which doctors and specialists they suggest.
Let’s get connected
If you have registered and opened a bank account then you are able to sign a contract at one of the following German mobile phone contract providers. The biggest providers are T-Mobile, Vodafone, O2 and 1&1.
The price of a monthly plan is around €25.
Finding a job
If you didn’t move here with a work contract in your hands you are probably looking for a job.
As the “Silicon Valley of Europe”, Berlin has a lot to offer. Big international companies are present in the city with several English-speaking positions and the start-up scene is also flourishing.
There are several companies which have a large number of international employees such as Zalando, N26, Soundcloud, Hello Fresh, Amazon, Booking.com and many more.
To get started check job boards or LinkedIn. Also, if you need help finding your dream job, Try Catch can help you connect with Europe’s leading tech companies! You just need to sign up on the website.
Before you start to apply to job openings, make sure to add a professional photo to your CV since it’s an important factor in Germany.
Germany has very high levels of employment, the unemployment rate is only 3.1% and the lowest youth unemployment in Europe was recorded in the country.
Settle in and enjoy!
Yes, you did it! You arranged all the necessary stuff, now it is time to settle in and enjoy this amazing city!
Hop on a bike
If you like biking then Berlin is the right city for you. The German capital is almost completely flat so you won’t need a bike with gears and most of the apartments and offices have bike storages where you can put your bike. Also, the streets are pretty wide and the car drivers are mostly looking out for cyclists. So it’s not a surprise that a lot of people bike in Berlin and around 500.000 daily bike ride takes place in the city.
If you would like to be one of the 7 out of 10 people who owns a bike in Berlin, you can check bike subscriptions like Swapfiets which offers a bike for only €19.50 a month or VanMoof+ which is €25 per month.
Other option: auctions. The Police & the BVG sell some of the bikes they have found but that were not reclaimed. They hold auctions to get rid of these bikes. You can get a really good bike for as low as 5€ or 15€. More info here and here.
Sprechen Sie Deutsch?
While at your English-speaking job you probably won’t need to speak German it’s always nice to learn the language of the country you live in or at least try. 🙂
You can find great tips about learning German in Berlin in this blog post.
To start right away, here are some basics:
Good morning! — Guten Morgen!
Hi / Bye — Hallo / Tschüs
Please! — Bitte!
Thank you — Danke schön
Yes / No — Ja / Nein
Cheers — Prost!
It’s hard to leave your family and friends behind to start your exciting journey in Berlin so it’s important to find new friends there too!
Luckily there are a lot of expat and international groups which you can choose from. Try Facebook groups like Berlin expats or check social groups on Meetup. Make sure to browse the best 30 meetup groups too where you can find International Salsa Meetups, Berlin Craft Beer Lovers Meetups or even Cards Against Humanity groups.
After doing all this stuff, don’t forget to enjoy the city! 🙂
There are plenty of great places in Berlin so everyone can find their kind of leisure activity.
Berlin is one of Germany’s greenest cities with over 44% of the city is made up of waterways, woods, rivers and nice green spaces. These are the best during warmer months when locals and visitors lounging with beer and music in the city’s many parks.
If you’re after a great night out, the very best clubs in Berlin can certainly deliver.
You can also visit concerts or one of the three stunning opera houses. The city is home to over 150 theatres and halls for music and art events all around the city.
Fancy food? Try German bread and wurst. Bread is an important part of German cuisine and it’s almost impossible to walk a few hundred meters in the country without finding a nice bakery. The country bakes 300 kinds of breads, a lot to choose from, right?
Try Catch will also plan to organize events where we would bring together all the amazing tech people in Berlin to have fun, connect and make new friends! Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn to stay updated!